Many new fighters focus on perfecting their technique and don't put enough emphasis on their boxing strength and conditioning program.
You can have the best technique in the world, but if you can't strike quickly and your punches don't have power, what good is it?
These days, you really don't have to take an expensive course or hire a world-renowned trainer to develop a great boxing strength and conditioning program. All you need is the internet and a bit of training equipment!
In this guide, we're going to teach you everything you need to know about this topic - including the importance of these two training methods.
Then, we'll share our favorite boxing conditioning exercises, and also teach you how to build strength in boxing. We've got a lot to cover, so let's not waste any more time!
What Is The Difference Between Strength Training And Conditioning?
Strength and conditioning go hand in hand in making you a more successful athlete or fighter. That said, the methodologies you'll incorporate for each form of training are incredibly different.
Strength training will use lower rep ranges, longer rest periods, and focuses on increasing power. Conditioning, on the other hand, strives to increase endurance and stamina.
It goes without saying that as unique a sport boxing is, both strength training and conditioning are going to differ greatly for it compared to other sports. So let's get sport-specific for a minute.
What Exactly Is Conditioning In Boxing?
We're going to start by defining conditioning, specifically as it pertains to the sport of boxing. If you're relatively new to fitness in general, this may be the first you're really hearing of this term.
Conditioning is a form of training that focuses on increasing your entire body's work capacity. The main goal of conditioning is to increase your endurance - whether you're conditioning your whole body or a specific muscle group, like your legs.
Specifically, as it pertains to boxing, conditioning is a term used to describe a fighter's stamina - how do you fare over the course of multiple 5-minute rounds, for example?
What Is The Importance Of Conditioning In Boxing?
Different types of training are more important in different sports - so how important is conditioning as it pertains to boxing?
Let's just put it this way - the better-conditioned fighter is going to be a favorite every single time. If you've never set foot in a ring or worked a heavy bag, then you likely don't understand just how taxing this sport can be on you.
As you can imagine, conditioning in boxing is a whole-body endeavor. You need your arms to be well-conditioned so you can throw quick, lethal combinations over the course of 12 rounds or more.
You also need to condition your legs, though, to constantly prance and move around the ring. Quick feet are essential for good defense and offense, and just like striking - you need to be moving at peak performance till the final bell sounds.
Similarly, you'll need a well-conditioned core to brace for body shots. So yes - boxing is a sport that regular conditioning exercises must be incorporated.
We'll explain what conditioning exercises we recommend later on, and how we'd prescribe them. But for now, we want to touch on boxing strength training.
Do You Really Need To Train Strength For Boxing?
It should come as no surprise that strength is important in boxing. The technique is certainly a huge part of the equation, but you have to be able to deliver damaging blows if you're hoping to win more rounds.
What may surprise you though, especially if you're new to boxing, is that upper body strength training is only half the battle.
Equally as important are lower body and core strength. A well-rounded strength training program for boxing consists of a good balance of all the muscle groups involved in throwing punches and absorbing them well.
How Do You Build Strength In Boxing?
While building strength through conventional barbell movements is still a good idea, it's actually not the ideal form of strength training for boxing.
You shouldn't confuse strength training with bodybuilding. The goal is not to get huge - this will only hinder your performance in the ring, more often than not.
Instead, the goal is to build explosive strength within your entire frame. Proper strength training should build power along with muscular endurance. Both of these are going to be crucial for your progress as a fighter.
To make sure your strength actually transfers to the ring, and get the most bang for your buck, you should perform boxing-specific movements - with resistance.
We'll cover exactly how you can go about this later on when we discuss specific exercises we recommend boxers incorporate into their training.
How Often Do Boxers Do Strength And Conditioning?
The frequency of which you're going to train at will depend on a few different variables - what other training you have in your regimen, and whether or not you're preparing for a fight.
Of course, you have to take into consideration how much heavy bag work you're doing - this is an entire workout all on its own.
If you're sparring daily, or even three times a week, this will limit you in terms of how many strength and conditioning training sessions you can employ each week.
Preparing For A Fight vs General Strength & Conditioning
More important though, is what exactly you're trying to train for - an upcoming fight or just for fun. As you can imagine, the protocol will vary depending on which bucket you fall into.
Frequency For Those Preparing For A Fight
If you're training for an upcoming fight, you'll need to be much more strategic with your strength and conditioning programming.
This is because you want to peak at the right time and ensure you don't fatigue yourself for the big day.
Frequency For Those Who Are Casual Boxers Or General Fitness Enthusiasts
But if you're just a casual boxer or you're in your off-season, you will be able to be more casual with your programming. We're going to assume you aren't doing any other weight training.
In this case, you can do a strength and conditioning training session as often as every third day. It's just important to try and give your body a full 48 hours to recover between sessions.
This isn't a hard and fast rule, but trying to ensure this recovery window between strength and conditioning sessions will help you prevent overtraining.
This works out to 3-4 sessions a week, along with whatever boxing training you're doing to perfect your technique and timing.
Develop A Balanced Boxing Strength And Conditioning Program
In just a moment, we're going to cover some of our favorite forms of high-intensity interval training and exercises to build boxing strength.
But, we can't stress enough the importance of developing a well-rounded boxing strength and conditioning program.
This isn't as simple as just choosing exercises haphazardly and executing them with no rhyme or reason.
If you're preparing for a fight, it might be worth hiring a coach near you and letting them take the lead. Otherwise, you can self-program by selecting a few of the exercises below and incorporating them into your regimen.
Just be sure your training is well balanced, pulling both conditioning exercises and strength exercises. You need to also ensure you're working all the main muscle groups associated with boxing - not just your shoulders and upper back, but your core, your legs, etc.
The Best Strength And Conditioning Exercises For Boxing
Now, without further ado, we're going to share the best exercises you can add to your regimen to increase your punching force and build stamina in the process.
You might expect a long exhaustive list, but it can actually be really simple - there are just two movements we want to mention - one for conditioning and one for building strength.
Best High-Intensity Interval Training Exercises For Boxing
We're going to start by discussing conditioning exercises for boxing. If you're training for a boxing match, your conditioning is even more important to ensure you go the distance - so don't take the easy way out on these.
We recommend high-intensity interval training for your conditioning exercises because it imitates the nature of a boxing match.
There are tons of specific exercises that can help you condition for boxing. Running isn't a bad option if this is your thing - but keep in mind it will put stress on your joints, and you need to manage physical stress as much as you can.
Nothing Beats Jumping Rope For Conditioning!
You can simply jump rope for this if you're trying to get by without any fancy equipment.
This is one of the best ways to condition yourself for boxing because it also helps you work on footwork and coordination - key ingredients to becoming a better boxer.
By simply ending your boxing workouts with 10-15 minutes of high-intensity jump rope, you'll find that your endurance skyrockets - you'll also feel more confident while sparring.
Why We Recommend Banded Resistance Training When Building Strength For Boxing
You might be surprised to hear that we don't really recommend boxers mess around with weights too much. Sure, if you're looking to pack on muscle mass to bulk up to a new weight class - they have their place.
Protect Yourself From Injury
But using resistance bands instead of weights allows you to save your joints and connective tissue.
Weight training can really take a toll on these, especially when you throw in the physical stress of combat sports.
And contrary to popular belief, you can easily build explosive strength through resistance band training.
With different bands, you have different levels of resistance, allowing for a wide range of weight.
It's Sport Specific To Boxing
Furthermore - resistance band strength training allowing you to perform exercises super specific to boxing.
You can use resistance bands to shadow box, which will force you to build strength within your strike - you can't get any more sport-specific than that!
The Best Piece Of Strength And Conditioning Equipment For Boxing - The Power Punch Pro
If you're serious about strength and conditioning, then the Power Punch Pro is for you.
This is a full-body boxing resistance band designed specifically for boxers looking to increase their upper body strength.
No other piece of equipment can help you generate as much explosive strength, power, and speed as the Power Punch Bro - it's literally a cheat code!
What Makes The Power Punch Pro So Effective?
This is only possible because by adding resistance to the specific boxing movements, you are training the tiny little stabilizing muscles that don't get incorporated through traditional weight training. This also helps protect against injury, creating more balanced strength.
The best part?
By shadowboxing with the Power Punch Pro resistance trainer, you'll not only be increasing strength and power - you'll be conditioning yourself. This is the #1 boxing workout you can add to your regimen.
Not only are you going to find that your strikes are more powerful - your guard is going to be stronger. By training with that resistance, you'll engrain that strong guard in yourself and find that you maintain it even after removing the resistance!
Does This Mean You Should Avoid Weights Or Cable Machines?
Just because we don't recommend traditional barbell exercises for boxers looking to increase their explosive punching power and conditioning, doesn't mean they are inherently bad.
We just don't believe them to be the ideal method of training for this sport.
A jump rope will prepare you for 12 rounds in the ring better than any treadmill will. The Power Punch Pro will build the explosive knockout power and impenetrable guard that you need to win fights.
These two pieces of equipment are all you need, and they're super affordable. With that said, incorporating weight training into your programming is a great idea during the offseason.
This will help you build up muscle mass, which increases the potential for additional strength down the line.
But as it pertains specifically to boxing - stick to the strength and conditioning recommendations we've outlined above, and you'll find that you really don't need much more!